A new training program seeks to draw more women into the cybersecurity community. Here, women in tech attend a hacker career fair. (Gunjan Sondhi/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Twenty women are preparing for careers in cybersecurity through a new training program offered by the Canadian-based Women CyberSecurity Society (WCS2), and CompTIA, the nonprofit association that specializes in training programs and certifications for tech workers.

CompTIA and WCS2  are focused on addressing the dual challenges of training and certifying more cybersecurity professionals and encouraging women to enter the tech workforce and especially pursue careers in cybersecurity.

“There’s a global shortfall of new professionals entering the cybersecurity sector and one of our key aims for this program is to demonstrate to individuals from all walks of life that it’s possible to reskill into cybersecurity as long as you have the passion and tenacity to succeed,” said Lisa Kearney, president and CEO of WCS2.

Kearney pointed out that women comprise just 10% of Canada’s cybersecurity workforce. Even more alarming, an estimated 50% of women drop out of the tech workforce in the first four years of their careers. Kearney said it’s important right now to draw women into the tech workforce because the data shows that working women have been among the demographics hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that cybersecurity can be a place where women can learn a new occupation in a good-paying field.

Women bring invaluable skillsets to cybersecurity by providing a different perspective that’s needed, now more than ever, said Kris Crawford, vice president of marketing at The Media Trust.. Unfortunately, women are often objectified in the digital environment, making them uncomfortable, Crawford said.

“To attract women to careers in cybersecurity, and to keep them in the tech workforce, companies need to make them feel safe,” Crawford said. “A big first step in fostering digital safety is to set clear policies on what’s allowed in their digital environments, including the creatives they use in websites, apps, and marketing campaigns.”

A growing family and a successful cybersecurity career aren't mutually exclusive, pointed out Deepti Hemwani, head of product at Dasera.

"Coincidentally, I transitioned from networking to cybersecurity with a CompTIA Security+ certification and an encouraging mentor, so I encourage all WCS2 Career Advancement Program participants to stay the course,” Hemwani said. “Cybersecurity – and especially data security – will continue to be a hot market."